THE Labour group has lost overall control of a North-East council following the latest defections to an Independent party.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council now has 28 Labour members with 30 more made up of Liberal Democrats, Conservative and Independents, with one seat up for by-election following the resignation of disgraced councillor Dave McLuckie.

The former chairman of Cleveland Police Authority was jailed for eight months for perverting the course of justice earlier this month and stood down from his position as a Skelton councillor.

Now, the defection of councillors John Hannon and David Williams sees Labour group and council leader George Dunning facing the loss of his party’s overall majority.

In his resignation letter, Coun Hannon, a former firefighter who represents the Newcomen ward, expressed concerns about the group’s u-turn over fire brigade issues.

Councillor Williams’ cited a lack of support for east Cleveland Labour members as being behind his decision to change allegiances.

"The Labour Party have said that Redcar and Cleveland Labour Group is the most dysfunctional group they have come across. Every meeting has a regional officer attend to supervise their behavour. They're also ignoring East Cleveland and I'm sick of it,” said the Westwood ward councillor.

Councillor Victoria Reyer has also joined the independent group from the Liberal Democrats but her reasons are unknown.

Councillor Dunning said it was disappointing to lose the overall majority but his group still have a large majority over the nearest rivals the Liberal Democrats.

He said: “It is always sad and disappointing when people leave a political group but these two individuals couldn’t come to terms with the rules and regulations of the Labour Party.

"A previous member left when he wasn’t selected as the prospective parliamentary candidate in Redcar.”

In February, Councillor Sean Pryce resigned from the party group after a dispute over plans to impose car parking charges in Saltburn proved a step too far.

And it came a little over a year following the decision of fellow Labour and Co-operative member Tristan Learoyd to resign in December 2011.

The by-election for the Skelton ward is set to take place next Thursday (August 8).